Cracking the Resume Code

Posted by Bradley Metz on 8/21/18 4:19 PM

In interviewing

A resume holds a lot of information and says a lot about your candidate. It's a piece of paper that is initially the only tool a candidate has to make an impact. The average HR manager spends only 6 seconds reviewing a resume. How many superstar candidates have fallen through the cracks of various career opportunities because the interviewer missed a key detail or strength? 

If you know what to look for, resumes can tell you much more about a candidate than just their education and a list of jobs they have had in the past. All you need to do is look between the lines and past the list of jobs for signs of the type of candidate that this person really is. 

Format, Organization, Attention to Detail

When we first look at a resume, the first things we notice is a well formatted resume with a clear story. Skills, ideas flow naturally across the page, is easy to read and the information categories are meaningful. This should be the candidates opportunity to put their best foot forward. It says a lot about how a candidate thinks and organizes. 

Be on the look out for typos. They aren't just a nuisance or a simple error, they can be a sign that the candidate is careless and did not bother to review the resume for obvious errors. When you're looking for the perfect fit for your practice, details matter. We've all hit a typo or two on an email or message, but a resume is a direct reflection of the candidate and the applicant should have spent time not only putting it together but reviewing it for accuracy.

Did the candidate take the initiative to read up on your company, the job description and build their resume for you or are they just sending their resume to every career around the block? If the resume speaks directly to your opportunity by highlighting skills that are relevant, you know that the candidate took the time to really think through how they can be an asset to you and your business.


imatters not only ensures that your career reaches professionals in all corners of the eye care industry, we sift through the hundreds of resumes and only present you the best, most successful candidates.

Do They Have Soft Skills?

Soft skills are qualities that are an asset to a business regardless of education and work history. There are skills such as communication, teamwork, integrity and are key to vetting employees who will be dealing with customers and teammates frequently. 

A recent study found that soft skills like training, communication and problem solving boosts productivity and retention by 12% and delivers a 256% return on investment based on higher productivity and retention. These skills are expected to become more important to employers in the future. Stay ahead of the game and look out for an employee's soft skills.

Finding the soft skills? Not so easy. So how can you identify them? Start with consideration and empathy. Many of us claim our achievements as our own, however giving credit where it is due is a valuable trait. Does the candidate claim his accomplishments from a solo perspective, or as a result of team work and collaboration? Even if a candidate indeed accomplished everything on their own, keep an eye out for team players as those candidates are the ones that will encourage growth within your team. 

Motivation and Tenacity

In the eye care industry, our challenges numerous. If not handled correctly, failing to overcome particular challenges can mean setting your business back. Look for signs of motivation on a resume. When given a challenge, were they able to succeed and overcome?

This can be hard to look for on a resume, but the best candidates will give you insight into their drive and motivation. You can look for challenges they have overcome, products made or improved, department improvements, sales number increases, just to name a few.

Even if the challenges are not specific to your business and your challenges, you can draw parallels and their ability to overcome and follow up demonstrates not only their accountability but foresight to track their efforts. If the challenge presents itself as particularly ambitious, it is often the case that they explored many different ways to get it done.

Motivated employees not only hold superior work ethic, their tenacity makes them able to take ownership of their responsibilities and transcend their titles. Words such as "led", "developed" and "designed" or "improved", "exceeded" on their resume and ask them to elaborate on these projects during the interview. 

Signs of Progression

Resumes can tell a lot about the level of a candidate's experience; thought a long and diverse accounting of their previous positions does not necessarily mean they are a strong candidate. Careful consideration of their tenure with previous employers is key. 

How long did the candidate stay in their past workplaces? While long tenure can certainly be impressive, it is even more so if it is marked by upward progression. Look for past responsibilities indicating that they have experienced internal growth.

Context is important, and exceptions to the rule are numerous. A candidate make take a number of lateral moves in order to obtain a role they really desired, or to demonstrate loyalty. On the other hand, a person who stays in a role for a long time without any growth or progression may just be passionate about their career. It is important to use the context of the resume to aid the hiring process, rather the end all be all decision maker. With the right candidates and potent, discerning interview questions, giving your best on the final stage of the hiring process: the interview